25th August, 2018
Tennis fans have stormed the social media to heap blame on French Open officials for taking a decision to ban a catsuit worn by US tennis champion Serena Williams. Many of them are attributing the decision to racism, sexism and ignorance.
It will be recalled that the French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli recently singled out Serena’s’ black and red outfit, which she wore at the tournament in May. He told the Tennis Magazine that “‘certain limits’ would be imposed on player’s uniforms going forward.”
“I think that, sometimes, we’ve gone too far,” he said. “[The catsuit] will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and place.”
Many tennis fans have questioned the wisdom in banning an outfit which was specially designed by Williams’ sponsor, Nike, for health reasons.
According to Serena, the skin-tight material helped avoid blood clots, which caused her to have a pulmonary embolism after giving birth in September.
She went on to say:
“I’ve been wearing pants, in general, a lot when I play so I can keep the blood circulation going. It’s a fun suit, but it’s also functional so I can be able to play without problems.”
After playing in May’s French Open, Williams said the outfit made her feel like a “warrior”.
“I call it my Wakanda-inspired catsuit,” she said.
“I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess kind of, queen from Wakanda maybe … I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero. I feel like a superhero when I wear it.”
Commenting on the issue, Kristen Clarke, president of the US-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said the decision was “racist and sexist” and reflected how black women’s bodies are subject to increased restrictions.
“Arbitrary dress code policies have been disproportionately used to target Black women in schools, at work and now on the tennis court. This is the unfair policing of Black women’s bodies,” she said on Twitter.